Source: KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images
Source: KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

Microbial genomics company uBiome has awarded researchers at Stanford University a grant to study the role of abnormal semen microbiome in infertility.

The goal of the study—led by Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Barry Behr, Ph.D., and Sara Vaughn, M.D., a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility—is to analyze the impact of the microbiome of semen on fertilization, embryo quality, and pregnancy outcomes. Through the research, the team hopes to develop methods to detect potentially poor fertilization and poor embryo quality, and using this knowledge how to improve outcomes.

“Dr. Behr and Dr. Vaughn are expanding the limited research on the semen microbiome and how it relates to reproduction,” said Jessica Richman, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of uBiome in a press release. “We are excited to support the Stanford team for this fascinating and novel study.”

In addition to funding for the work, uBiome will provide the research team with it kits to develop new data on semen microbiome composition. It will include rates of fertilization per mature oocyte proportion of embryos forming blastocyst per early embryo, a biopsy of embryo, embryo grades, and proportions of euploid/aneuploid blasts per embryo biopsied.

 “We are grateful to receive our grant through uBiome’s Microbiome Grant Initiative. There is very little known about the role of the semen microbiome and its relationship to reproductive outcomes. We are honored to be working with uBiome on this important subject,” said Behr, an internationally known expert in human reproduction.

uBiome was founded in 2012 and, the company contends, has the largest database of microbiomes in the world collected from patients over the past five years. The company has seven issued patents for its technologies and another 250 patents pending. It combines its proprietary sequencing technology with machine learning and artificial intelligence geared toward consumers for wellness, as well as for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

To date, the uBiome has awarded millions of dollars to researchers around the world to researchers at Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT, UCSF, Oxford University, and the University of Sydney through its Microbiome Grant Initiative. Awards include microbiome sequencing kits and research support for study design, planning, sample collection, and analysis.

The company currently markets a number of kits for microbiome analysis including SmartGut, which identifies microbes in the gut for patients with chronic gut conditions such as IBD, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis; SmartJane, which genotypes all 19 clinically relevant strains of HPV, identifies four common STDs, and surveys more than 20 vaginal microbes associated with bacterial vaginosis and other conditions; and Explorer, a health and wellness product to understand the role that food and lifestyle can play in wellness.

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